Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (1 of 29), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 07:01 AM As gail says, "This rolls." I finished it in just a couple of days. The premise is a poor country is trying to get a factory built and they give a birthday party for the founder of a Sony-type corporation. His passion is opera, and though he has no interest in building a factory, they hire a famous soprano (who is his idol) to sing. He comes, there is a party, and ... and... The amazing thing is that Patchett has managed to orchestrate an enormous cast, and I never ever got mixed up. Each person is unique. With a few words, the people are real. And I cared about them enormously. It also helps if you love music, and know a little bit about opera, but it is not at all necessary. I didn't want the book to end. Probably more than any book I've read in a long time, and for more than one reason. I'll end on that cryptic note, but those who've finished will know what I mean. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2 of 29), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 11:02 AM SHERRY... you don't sit still... my , my .. i just made 100 pages... popped out of bed at three thirty.. found mrg's stash of nuts and scurried down to my study.... i love it...i did not read your comments...i am too involved mentally....the characters are drawn very well...and i am there with them... unfortunately i am off to power walk and garage sales...and off to film this afernoon.. home to this LIFE INTERRUPTER... gail...a passionate reader who always wonders where the next LIFE INTERRUPTER will pop up!!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (3 of 29), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 11:42 AM All these enthusiastic comments about this one may entice me into it. I'd decided Patchwork Planet would be my last Patchett. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (4 of 29), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 12:14 PM That was an Anne Tyler, Ruth. This is the author of The Magician's Assistant. Did you read that one? I think you would like it. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (5 of 29), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 01:04 PM Ogod. I always get Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler and Anne Lamott mixed up. I did read MA, but I don't remember much about it. Which Ann wrote that Angel book that everyone here except me liked so much? Or was that still another writer? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (6 of 29), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 01:09 PM Now actually, don't you think Patchwork Planet SHOULD have been written by someone named Patchett? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (7 of 29), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@bellsouth.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 02:11 PM Ruth, Are you thinking of Knowledge of Angels, by Jill Paton Walsh? The nearest that Patchett got to angels was sister Angela in The Patron Saint of Liars. Greetings from north of the river, Felix Miller ...I'll take a beer from the 'frigerator and go sit out in the yard/And with a cold one in my hand, I'm gonna bite down and swallow hard -No Time to Cry-Iris DeMent.
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (8 of 29), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 02:22 PM That's exactly what I was thinking of, Felix. How did I manage to get a Jill mixed into that pantheon of Anns? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (9 of 29), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 02:45 PM You were just being poetic and hearing that alliteration -- Patton/Patchett -- Ruth -- well, cut me some slack, I've been at the auto races all afternoon -- V-ROOOOOMMMMMMM. We saw some great cars -- one was a 1932 model -- more on this elsewhere. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (10 of 29), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 04:45 PM This is serendipitous -- Bel Canto is the next book in my collection to read. I chose it because of the title -- I love opera, but it will be great if it is also a good read.
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (11 of 29), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 08:32 PM I don't think you'll be disappointed, Lee. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (12 of 29), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 09:03 PM greetings LEE.. have your read any of her other books...i think she keeps getting better and better... what other books are waiting in line:-)) gail..a passionate reader awaiting concubine's children!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (13 of 29), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 09:17 PM greetings RUTH... when you mentioned the book by ann tyler...patchwork planet...i never tried that one..... now i am glad i passed it by... i even heard her new one is disappointing.. i am sticking with ANN PATCHETT... gail...a devoted patchett fan...!!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (14 of 29), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 04:54 AM I am an admirer of Anne Tyler, and am disappointed her latest isn't up to her usual standards. However, I hope the comments don't stop folks from reading her earlier works. Breathing Lessons and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant are two of my all time favorites. Ann Patchett's novels are wonderful, and she's certainly on a roll with Bel Canto. However, by the time she's written as many books as Tyler, she may well have a couple not quite up to her recent successes. K
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (15 of 29), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 07:30 AM I sat up half the night reading Bel Canto, and now I am dragging! I have about 60 pages left to read, and I am doing everything not to pick up my book again. I just can't imagine how Patchett can get these people out of this situation without disaster, and if there is disaster, I don't want to know. The only character I would be willing to sacrifice would be General Hector, and maybe some of the unnamed teen-agers. I don't want to have anything bad to happen to any of the hostages or to Beatriz or Ismael or Carmen or even the other generals. How does she do this -- make these characters so involving? She certainly has included a large cast, but as someone else mentioned, each character is memorable and not hard to keep track of. I am going to listen to Verdi, and maybe I will sneak a read, if I feel confident that I can cope with finishing this wonderful novel.
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (16 of 29), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 07:32 AM Lee, I told you I didn't want the book to end. Now you know what I mean. It's one of the most involving books I've ever read. The people are real. They just are. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (17 of 29), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 08:34 AM LEE, you are amazing.. i feel asleep with the book in my hand at nine thirty... i was up at five thirty and instead of reading i had to check CR:_)) THE CHARACTErs ARE so endearing...and yes, soo easy to remember.. i am almost to page 200.. and am savoring it... i want to go and listen to opera...for non opera fans this book will work wonders!!! i think her descriptions and how she sets up the situations are very clever.... GEN is a favorite of mine...the part about languages... he is adept in various languages.. swedish.. spanish. .french...russian... and he is the translator in the group.. for those who have not read this!... he proceeds to say... that he reads all the great authors in their original form.. flaubert in french...kafka in russian.. and when he is finished with that.. he reads flaubert in russian.. kafka in french.. .isn't that clever writing.. !! gail...happy as can be .. with my LIFE INTERRUPTER~!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (18 of 29), Read 31 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 01:29 PM I am TOTALLY FURIOUS with Ann Patchett. How could she do that to those wonderful characters? Even the generals and the nameless teenagers became sympathetic. I could never be an author of fiction, I think, because I would not be able to end. I knew that there was only one way it could turn out, but I kept hoping Patchett could find another way. My day has been spent thinking about the situation, the characters, and ripping out weeds viciously. I also have some swallows who have been trying to next over my front door, and they have been outed more thoroughly than they might have been. Patchett has certainly left me with questions about who are the real criminals. of course, I know the answers, having lived and worked in developing countries, but this one brings it home again. I did at first feel that the final outcome with Gen and Roxanne was a bit trite, but I suppose that it was also inevitable, given what had gone on before. I am still wondering about it. I have been playing some old Lily Pons records to soothe my soul.
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (19 of 29), Read 31 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 01:43 PM SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I wasn't exactly furious with her, but I was hoping there would be a better outcome. I wish Messner had broken the rules and told them what would happen. I was mad at him for being so "neutral." Do you think they would have surrendered had they known about the tunnel? I wasn't sure about the ending, either, but it does make a kind of sense. But poor Gen lost both his loves. Lee, didn't you like Ruben Iglesius(sp?) the Vice President? I think he was about my favorite character. Although, all of them were like family by the end of the book. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (20 of 29), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 02:01 PM I loved all the character, and Ruben was certainly a lovely man. When he came around collecting the trash and providing ashtrays, I found myself chuckling and wishing it weren't the middle of the night so I could phone my friend and tell her about this great book. I loved Gen, too, as I am a student of languages. As for Messner, I sympathised with him, and I felt that he really was suffering by being in the middle. The characters whom I most loved were Cesar and Carmen. I have a weakness for singers, and also for women who take on non-traditional roles. I liked Carmen better than Beatriz because the author gave us more of Carmen, but Beatriz had her moments, too. I am still angry with the author. I know her choices became limited, but .........
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (21 of 29), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 02:46 PM Didn't you love the line about the opera Carmen being dangerous to priests? I wish I could remember it. I didn't mark up the book, because it's hard cover. There were several lines I thought were priceless. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (22 of 29), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 03:06 PM SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I also identified with the characters and felt myself empathetic to the terrorists' cause. But then, I had to remind myself that they were holding these people captive, and that part of what was going on was the seduction of the hostages. From what little I've read, that's a common reaction of people in such situations. It's important to remember that Gen KNEW what was going on and CHOSE to ignore it. The only ones that kept a sense of balance were the priest and Messner. I'm not blaming any of the characters, but I am saying that Patchett did a beautiful job of seducing her readers into an empathetic stance with the terrorists. She drew them as relatively benign, but they were still terrorists at worst and kidnappers at best. Let me add that my emotions were pulled in all directions. I thought I'd die when Cesar, Carmen, and Mr. Hosokawa died. I did not think the Gen and Roxane marriage was realistic. I also thought the Beatriz thread was unfinished. From the hints Patchett dropped, I figured Beatrix would use the Hosokawa\Roxane affair as leverage somehow. K
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (23 of 29), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 03:18 PM AND YET ANOTHER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I had that same feeling about Beatriz, Kay. I thought somehow she was going to use the information to her advantage, but then, she probably would have, had the military waited a while. What got me was the the terrorists where such innocents really, without any experience of the outside world. It was hard to think of them as killers, but as children who had been terribly taken advantage of. What was your reaction when it said the President stayed home because of "his soap opera"? I had to reread that part, because at first I didn't think it meant a literal soap opera. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (24 of 29), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 04:50 PM SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER What got me was the President never seemed to be involved with what had happened. Of course, we didn't get to read the news items any more than the hostages did. But I got the feeling he really wouldn't have cared much beyond the fact he had escaped the Vice President's fate. I agree, Sherry. The terrorists were victims of an uncaring, elitist regime. I just think it's important to realize they had no right to do what they did to the innocent world citizens. I have to remember, though, that taking so many hostage was not part of their original plan. Once they were in the situation, they had to continue. I thought it interesting that so many hostages and kidnappers were able to enrich parts of their lives during the siege. I was pleased for them, though as a reader, I never quite lost the sense of being confined. Like Thibault, I wanted OUT of there. He had something to return to. Not all the hostages were content to stay. We just heard more from the ones that were. The people that refused to think of the future were deluding themselves. Ruben wanted to adopt Ishmael?!! His wife would come to love him, too?!! Gen believed he could marry Carmen and live happily ever after?!! They had lost all touch with reality. Perhaps in a different world those things would have been possible. That different world, of course, was part of Patchett's message - the Bel Canto. This novel reads like an opera, doesn't it? K
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (25 of 29), Read 31 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@starband.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 08:36 PM Very perceptive comments, Kay. It was operatic. Big and blustery and unreal, with emotions over the top. But it was oh so beautiful. "Bel canto" = beautiful singing. Sherry
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (26 of 29), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 12:46 AM greetings LEE... KAY.. SHERRY.. i finished BEL CANTO...was it three days...or four days...whatever... the book was wonderful.. the premise of these people ...terrorist/captors... is not a new one... but her characters jump out at you.. you walk around during the day.. thinking about them...you know who they are.. you can name them readily... and even their idiosycranies... you fall in love with them...you wait to see what develops and you know they are going to die!! from the inception... i knew death was the ending... however trite.. LEE, YES, gen and roxane... oh my GOSH.. i started to laugh!! i think it would have been better to have deleted that section.. which is mighty short ....it would have been better knowing they died helping each other.... .. i want to share some of the poignant parts that i will carry with me... ESMERElda...sewing up the face of RUBEN...the VICE PRESIDENT... wow, would you ever forget this HIGHLY DRAMATIC SCENE... and let's not forgot some of the humorous parts... when CARMEN takes mr. hosokawa to meet his lover through the dark ...small hallways... she thinks.. .THANK GOD, this isn't the RUSSIAN... they would have to stop to smoke... wasn't THIELBAULT a scream with his cooking....and the terrorists/captors working in the kitchen side by side slicing onions...etc.. a cast of colorful characters which will remain with me for quite a while... i think the character of GEN is my favorite...an unusual person with his facility for languages and how he describes his childhood...learning all these languages and having not much time for anything else... i am tired now... but a good tired.. i want to think about this exceptional thrilling ..and chilling novel...it certainly INTERRUPTED MY LIFE!! gail.. off to play bridge after feeling very satisfied!!
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (27 of 29), Read 8 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 06:30 AM It's important to remember that Gen KNEW what was going on and CHOSE to ignore it. I'm not sure I understand this comment of Kay's. Gen, as translator, processed all the various comments among the hostages and captors, but as for really knowing what was happening, I'm not certain I agree. He was not party to any decision-making, he simply passed on the various demands. I did not have the feeling that the captors were any less captive than their hostages. They were being held hostage themselves by a corrupt government which was willing to sell out the interests of the country to a Japanese factory. The brother of one of the generals was jailed for protest, the young people in the movement were all denied proper education and opportunity because of their poverty and birth circumstance. It was suggested several times that those on the outside might not be trusted to release the hostages unharmed: if the captors didn't harm them, the government forces would in order to justify themselves. I think one of the issues which arose here was that the government was NOT blameless. As for the president sitting home watching his soap opera, I loved that, but the ominous undertone was there. Soap, washing, Pontius Pilate came to my mind. Also, trivial, mindless, manipulated. Actually, a friend has told me that there was a soap opera which captured her whole country in South America, and that life and conversation focussed on its events. That reminds me of an occasion in a school where I taught on my return from several years in Africa. I heard people talking about "Shawn" and "Meaghan" and "?????" and various other names and their escapades. I commented that I was surprised that the entire staff seemed to all have the same circle of friends. It was then that I learned that the entire staff rushed home immediately the buses left to watch the same soap opera! We haven't talked about Mr. Hosokawa. It is so very appropriate that he is always referred to as Mr., isn't it? He was self-effacing, and yet a pivotal character. I felt that Patchett did a wonderful job of showing us this man. His death was so very much in character, I felt, and provided Patchett with all that she needed for her ending. I also loved the Carmen reference, that the music itself is corrupting, without ever getting to lyrics! I can think of a couple of other pieces of opera music which I find just about as sensual as some of Carmen: the opening of Der Rosenkavalier is sensual, sensuous, suggestive, all of the above to me.
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (28 of 29), Read 12 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 12:30 AM greetings KAY... ANN PATCHETT has written only four novels and each one is a WINNER .. ANN TYLER...has written many many..and yes, i can highly recommend DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT and maybe one or two more... ANN PATCHETT takes her time to write her novels.. she is in no hurry.. she has no financial worries...as she had shared with us when she toured with MAGICIAN'S ASSISTANT... i will always read a good novel by ANN TYLER when my BOOKIES rave about it.. but till then.. i need books that virtually INTERRUPT MY LIFE.. gail..a passionate reader and fan of ANN PATCHETT and ANN TYLER...
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (29 of 29), Read 6 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@yahoo.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 08:34 AM Lee- When I said Gen KNEW what was going on and CHOSE to ignore it, I was referring to his conversation with Messner about the tunnel. Gen got the message that disaster was pending, yet he elected to stay in his love cocoon with Carmen. He tried to warn the generals, but when they didn't pick up on it, he let it go and opted for his delusion. There's no doubt the terrorists were victims of the situation. However, they did have the option of releasing more hostages, not to mention getting the heck out of Dodge when they first realized the President wasn't at the party. I understand why they didn't - they were frightened and dismayed and were determined to make a point. But they did opt to inflict terror. I became attached to the captors as much as the hostages. Given the statements about how the government would be willing to sacrifice the hostages to prove a point, I gained an understanding of the captors. They did feel just as trapped as the hostages. But they were the ones that forced 58 people to give up their own freedom to satisfy the needs of the people. Did anyone else in CR feel a sense of claustrophobia while reading this? Though I was totally absorbed, I was very aware that all was not right. What I think is important is how well Patchett drew her reader into the captive mindset. The only one that kept a perspective was Thibault. He had something to live for outside of the situation. The others found their life's purpose inside Ruben's house. K
Topic: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (30 of 30), Read 12 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Lee Beech (lee.beech@sympatico.ca) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 04:07 PM I guess when I consider the often corrupt governments of some of the countries of South America, Asia and Africa, I wonder how protest can be carried out. It seemed the hostage-takers were prisoners to their own government. I have lived in a regime which I felt held its citizens in virtual captivity, and perhaps in some countries,there is no alternative but desperate action. Certainly this is the impression I have had from some of my friends in development organizations, friends who have been tortured and imprisoned by their own governments, for their beliefs. One of the generals had a brother who had been imprisoned for protest, didn't he? I did not get the impression that he was a criminal, but that he was a dissident. Yes, the hostage-takers took hostage the people from the party, and certainly created fear. The Vice President was mistreated at the beginning, but on the whole, the hostage- takers did not act violently -- the government forces did. I felt that Patchett certainly left me pondering how one can protest in a country where legitimate disagreement is not permitted.